What is a Twitter Chat?

A Twitter Chat is a pre-arranged coming together of a group of Twitter users all interested in a certain topic – denoted by the hashtag (#) used. They usually last for 1 hour.

Questions are posed to the interested group – via the chosen hashtag – by a host (sometimes weekly changing) to encourage interaction; tweets, retweets, follows, favourites.

The First Step

If you’re on Twitter, however infrequently, chances are that you’ve come across a Twitter Chat; #B2Bchat, #BizHeroes, #BlogChat, #CommsChat.

Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to hosting your very own Twitter Chat and all the benefits that go along with it. But your first step, if you haven’t already taken it, should be to participate in one. There’s no better way of learning than doing.

Participating in a Twitter Chat, learning how to follow it and how to make the most of the experience is a vital part of making your own a success.

Why Hold a Twitter Chat?

Everyone has different motives for hosting/attending Twitter Chats; perhaps you just want to interact, or maybe you’d like to build authority in your chosen field.

Whatever your reason, here’s a list of our 3 favourite reasons to host a Twitter Chat:

#1 Creating Relationships

Do you want to know why Twitter Chats are so fantastic? Everyone can host one. You don’t need money, you don’t need approval. This makes them a great way to interact with customers and prospects, even if you’re a tiny business just starting out. Get it right and you can expect to receive a host of new followers every week.

#2 Effective Brand Promotion

Position yourself correctly by hosting or sponsoring the correct Twitter Chat and it could prove an effective tool for reaching a large base of prospective customers. Twitter Chats have the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of Twitter accounts, generating millions of impressions. Some sponsorship opportunities even include direct mentions of your business in addition to advertising banners/packages.

#3 Staying Relevant & Informed

The benefit to your business may not be as direct as clear promotion, but staying relevant to your customers through education is a major benefit of Twitter Chats. Both hosting and participating in chats can enable you to discover what it is your audience wants and the grievances they may have, as well as general trends in your industry.

How to do a Twitter Chat?

Most importantly, of course, is how you go about hosting your own Twitter Chat. Everyone is free to do so; no one is stopping you. Having said that, given the time investment, you want to ensure that your Twitter Chat is as successful as possible.

To answer this question, let’s look at one of our most recent, and most successful Twitter Chats.

Case Study: Visit Jersey #AdvTravelChat

Last month, we hosted our most successful Twitter Chat to date in conjunction with Visit Jersey and #AdvTravelChat (our sponsored chat of choice). Our results demonstrated that with careful, well-considered planning, Twitter can be used to hugely boost the reach of any digital campaign.

How-To-Do-A-Twitter-Chat

To understand why Visit Jersey’s Twitter Chat was so successful, we asked our all-round social media guru, Sheri Matthews, for her top tips on how to do a Twitter Chat.

#1 Incentivise

You need to give people a reason to participate. Twitter Chats do naturally offer benefits for those involved (exposure, followers), but if you want to hit yours out of the park then entering everyone who participates into a prize draw is an excellent starting point.

#2 Promote

To achieve true Twitter Chat success, highlight influencers in your sector and Tweet them up. And remember to let them know that you’re giving away prizes. Do the same with any existing email databases.

Don’t forget to tweet more generally about the event either, using eye-catching imagery to grab the attention of your existing followers.

#3 Sponsor

If you don’t have time for heavy promotion, sponsoring an existing Twitter Chat – like #AdvTravelChat – is a good way to ensure success. That being said, promoting a chat you’ve sponsored is the best way to get an impressive turnout.

#4 Schedule

If you have it your way, your Twitter Chat is going to be busy. You’d be surprised how long it takes to respond to tweets and keep the flow going with those pre-determined questions.

An easy way around this? Schedule the tweets you know you need to send. Our chat for Jersey had around 30 tweets scheduled in; our own answers to the questions; leading questions and promotional tweets. Doing this will enable you to focus on being as personable as possible.

#5 Team Up

With potentially hundreds of tweets to reply to, it’s best not to go it alone. A twitter chat can be a difficult event to traverse solo. Work on getting a small team together to answer any questions and engage with tweets as much as possible.

#6 Have a Personality

Twitter users don’t come to Twitter Chats for blatant marketing and corporate vernacular. Be friendly, have a personality. Obviously, you need to tow the brand line and be on-message, but don’t be scared to be chatty and informal and take a few risks with your responses.

#7 Engage

Don’t think that once the Twitter Chat is over, the Twitter Chat is over. Oh no, you need to keep retweeting, favouriting and maybe even talking to people you’ve really resonated with. Think of it almost as a late-night networking session at the conference bar.

After The Chat

So, we’ve established that following your chat it’s important to keep engaging and making the most of every opportunity to learn, promote and engage.

But there is one action that really takes the biscuit in the importance stakes; analytics, numbers and your ability to learn as many lessons as possible from your chat. It doesn’t matter if it’s your 1st or 21st.

Using tools like Twitter Analytics, Tweet Reach or Storify help you to calculate how successful your chat has been and why. You can then use these statistics to hone your future chats, and make tweaks to ensure success.